As I write this I am on the train to work. Doing the commute to the 9-5. And some days when I do this I find myself thinking there must be more. Surely there’s more to life than this? And there is.
There’s so much going on in the world that I could try and be a part of, or get a piece of. But by choosing one thing, it rules out another and so on and so forth.
I was part of a conversation at the weekend which was related to this. It was essentially about work life balance and the analogy that was quoted by one of the guys goes like this:
You have three plates spinning.
The Work plate.
The Family plate.
The Friend plate.
You try to keep all three spinning away but you’ve only got a finite amount of time and energy to share amongst them. If you want to make some progress at work, more effort goes into that and less into the others. If you want to spend more time with your friends you either spend less time with your family or less time at work.
I think there’s a forth plate.
The Me plate.
This is the plate I drop first, putting all other plates as priority above it. This isn’t a blog about self care, but it is important for me to note as maybe I should prioritise it more often.
My mum sums this analogy up well. So well I’ve made it the title. You can’t have everything. It isn’t possible to keep all those plates spinning without burning yourself out. You’ll drop a plate eventually so it’s up to you to decide which plate you want to spin the hardest and which you don’t mind spending less time on.
The final way I have to explain this, comes from one of my all time favourite SitComs, Dinnerladies.
I forget the context but someoen needs to make a decision and one of the characters, Stan, comes out with the gem of a phrase:
‘Pick your potato’
Pick. Decide. Prioritise. And make that thing great.
I’m not suggesting if you value your career and want to climb the ladder to the top that you should never see your friends and family again. Or that if your friends and / or family are the most important to you that you quit your job because that’s unrealistic. You still need an income.
But for me, when I’m faced with a big decision I think to myself, Pick Your Potato. What’s most important to me and will this help me to achieve that thing? Sometimes I don’t make the choice that will help, either because I’m not brace enough or because it’s not practical but it’s something I try to do anyway.